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Reply with quote  #1 

I have 2 children aged 8 and 4.5 years. I have been speaking to them in German since birth, but not exclusively ( I have spoken english to them as well). They are exposed to English a lot more than German (I don't have any family here), so I am the only person speaking German to them.

As a family we speak English, although I do translate some of it into German. TV is mostly in English, I have bought German DVD's, we watch them sometimes.

My problem however is that my 8 year old refuses to watch anything in German, and also refuses to learn German (I try to give him lessons). He says it's boring and he just messes around in the lesson, I try and make it interesting by singing songs and playing computer games (a language learning game). My little one has now picked up on this too, and says he "hates" german! I didn't react, but I was quite shocked that my children have such a negative attitude towards learning a new language. I try to stay positive and encouraging, I refuse to give up!

Has anyone else had this problem and how did you deal with it?
My husband (who is English) doesn't mind me teaching the kids german and speaking to them in german, but he doesn't actively support me or encourage the kids to learn/speak it.

Thanks for your advice and replies!
Reply with quote  #2 
Have spoken German in the U.S. since birth, there was a time when it was not liked as much, but since we emphasize that 1/2 culture is using German and that we say this in such a way, it has become more like a game. Sometimes, making it special, I know how to do it with a girl, a boy may be different, but if you would get f.e. Pokeman game in German, that may help? With me it is really not an option, but a way of life, I only speak it to her. There are questions, why....the answer is this is how we do it, the difference is that the others don't use it, so it can be a secret language, or an advantage, if that works. It is a chore and an attitude, so one needs to be strict about it, it's like wearing green or blue socks, when you are with Mom you are wearing the green socks, that works with a small child, at eight, would imagine it could be a fascinating fact that English developed out of German and without it we would not know the other language.

Viel Glueck!
Reply with quote  #3 
HI Karinchen,

thanks for your answer! I just refuse to give up and I have bought a DS Game for my older son, a language learning game, we do it together, and he learns new words all the time. I just want to convey the grammar and sentences to him too, so he can communicate in german and understand it too! It is not easy!

Take Care
Reply with quote  #4 
I wish I knew the answer to that, having the same problem with my 4-year-old boy/girl twins. We have to speak English at home (my husband speaks little German), and I have to admit I haven't been consistent with OPOL (it's just too frustrating sometimes when I'm trying to get them to understand something and they act like they don't!) Maybe it's because I've lived in the U.S. since 1982, but I tend to answer in the language I'm spoken to (and my kids, ever since they started talking, used English). Of course, 4-year-olds may just pretend not to understand any language when you tell them something they don't want to hear ("Aufraeumen!" - "Clean up!")

I have some German DVDs (the "Der kleine Eisbaer" series, and German Dora DVDs), which they will watch. I also have a local German friend who visits often (we speak German, of course). Her 29-year-old son is perfectly bilingual (the family lived in the U.S. until the son was 6, then they moved to Germany, where he grew up. They spoke English at home and moved back to the U.S. when he was 16.) For us, however, moving to Germany - or even visiting often (the kids haven't been there yet, although their grandparents have visited) is just not an option.

Sometimes I want to just throw in the towel and give up.  However, I feel terribly guilty about it because it's a shame that children don't learn German when they have a German mother. Now I'm thinking about a German Saturday school offered at the local university, which has classes for children of various ages (but how much good would one day every two weeks do anyway?) But the main thing is I'll just have to keep on talking to them in German.

This wasn't very helpful, I know, but I want you to know you're not alone.

Best wishes,


Reply with quote  #5 
HI Delana!

Thanks for your reply, it is nice to know I am not alone!

I have german DVD's too, and I put them on for the kids, usually the little one as my older son just moans...

I give my older son lessons too, so he learns the language properly, but I know that just speaking to him in german would help, and I do that, but not consistenly enough, it is just so frustrating to speak to him when he just doesn't understand what i am saying, but i won't give up!

Thanks again, have a nice week!

DAniela x
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